Oct 3, 2014

Special programs for students with talent in visual and performing arts

Portfolio Day at the Corcoran
Students who excel in visual and performing arts have amazing opportunities to develop their talents in a variety of postsecondary arts programs.

And if you’re in this very select group, colleges and conservatories want to introduce themselves at a series of special college fairs and portfolio review sessions.

This fall, high school singers, dancers, and artists should consider attending one of 20 Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) College Fairs sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

Or if you are more narrowly interested in visual arts, the National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) sponsors a series of Portfolio Days in 41 US and Canadian cities.

NACAC’s PVA College Fairs are targeted to students interested in pursuing undergraduate or graduate study in theater, visual arts, graphic design, music, dance, or other related disciplines.

These fairs assemble groups of experts who provide information on educational opportunities, admission requirements, and financial aid. They also advise on portfolio development and auditions.

Free and open to the public, PVA College Fairs do not require pre-registration, although the opportunity to register is offered online for many fairs.

An entirely separate program, NPDA Portfolio Days offer opportunities for students to receive free advice, counseling, and critique from some of the best academics in the art business.

Upcoming Portfolio Days are scheduled in major cities across the country from Boston to San Francisco, and they wrap up in January at the Ringling College of Art & Design, in Sarasota, Florida.

And these are pretty incredible events. Students drive long distances to stand in lines clutching portfolios, paintings, sculpture, pottery, and other creations. They bring sketchbooks, works in progress, and finished pieces—some small and others quite large.

At the head of each line, experts from National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)-accredited colleges take considerable time to offer support and constructive criticism, as well as to give pointers on how to build a portfolio. No one is hurried, and every question is answered. Several (not all) participating schools even accept portfolios on the spot as the visual portion of an individual application.

Also free and open to the public, Portfolio Days require no registration and operate on a first come, first served basis. Students from the DC area can attend on Saturday, November 22 at the Corcoran College of Art & Design or Sunday, November 23, at the Maryland Institute College of Art. 

Although PVA College Fairs and NPDA Portfolio days generally attract high school students, some Portfolio Days are now labeled “graduate.” Check the website for more details.

And note that high school programs are not just for seniors. Underclassmen are strongly encouraged to get a head start by taking advantage of the opportunity to get free advising from experts in the arts.

More information on Portfolio Days may be found on the NPDA website. A complete schedule of PVA College Fairs as well as terrific advice on the application process for performing and visual arts students is provided on the NACAC website.

For the “backstory” on the college arts scene, be sure to check out the 2014 Guide to Performing and Visual Arts Colleges, which is offered as a free digital download by TeenLife Magazine.

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